easy desserts & recipes: 9.0
It has been a year since Japan was hit by the catastrophic 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that has claimed so many lives, demolished thriving towns, and destroyed the Fukushima Power Plant that triggered worldwide distress.
Japan’s economy has since then gotten back on its feet. Over the past months, the economy has grown an estimate of 2% just this first quarter of 2012. The Nikkei Average Index improved by 14%, the northeast coast towns are rebuilding and starting to attract new businesses. Sendai is now in the building boom process. These are all remarkable achievements that display the determination and resilience of people. Slowly but ever so surely, the country is picking up the pieces. Businesses are starting to get back on track, the tourism industry is gaining momentum, life has moved on… but has it really?
A year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I still find it difficult to relive the tragic event. Oftentimes, when we hear of such things happening elsewhere in the world, we somehow feel safe and detached in our own bubble of a life until such time that we too are faced with such an event and suddenly our whole bubble explodes and reality sets in.
Reality is such a hard bitter fact to confront head on. It’s like a hard slap in the face that wakes us up. We have no choice in the matter, we really have to look it straight in the eye, grit our teeth, and pray! There is a point in life where we have to confront such unspeakable things. It’s exactly these encounters that can make or break us. These defining moments change our lives. It has changed mine. I can say I live with a stigma. But each day the memory of that fateful day gets easier to push back into the recesses of my mind. It becomes a bitter aftertaste that sometimes regurgitates, but it becomes easier to swallow as the days go by. I happen to subconsiously gaze at my cell phone, with the digital time stamp reading back at me : 03-11-11 14:46 p.m. The eeriness of it all takes me back to the day the tsunami warning was going off. (sorry for the bad video quality, I grabbed the quickest camera near me at the time.)
I’m a New Yorker, an East Coast gal living in Japan with my husband and family for well over a decade. We experienced loss. And the danger is still far from over, with a big chance of a large earthquake happening in Tokyo. There have been a lot of tremors these past few months, especially in Chiba, and in Ibaraki (plus surrounding areas). We don’t buy produce or anything from these areas, because who knows, those who will argue it’s okay to get produce that have high levels of radiation might not feel the same 10 years later. Rather than take a gamble, we’ll be cautious. These surround areas are being battered, constant tremors, radiation fears, so on, and so forth. I can sit back and easily say “I’m so glad I’m not living there” and perhaps, that is part of human nature, but I must thank my lucky stars. After returning back to Japan, bruised, But still, we have managed to start over, as countless of others have done.
Watching the people of Japan during the healing and rebuilding process makes me feel so much a part of the country that I have come to call my own. Having witnessed firsthand the tragedies of the past year has allowed me to see that in just one sweep of nature’s wrath, all can be obliterated. This has given me humility. I have also seen how the strength of people can truly withstand anything. This has given me hope. I am a much better person having known such, and yes, life goes on and it is ever more beautiful.
Where to buy Cherry Blossom ingredients for cooking: (International shipping available)
1. Cherry Blossom Honey Syrup
2. Sakura (Cherry Blossom Extract) (English here). You can find this at Amazon Japan as well.
3. Cherry Blossom Leaf Powder can be used in baked goods, (this is where all the flavor comes from)
Cherry Blossom Parisan Macaron’s
Partially Adapted from Cookpad (Chan Nanamama)
(using a scale is a must, after switching to a scale, I never went back to using cups).
Egg white 37 ~ 40g
Granulated sugar 30g
Almond powder 50g
Powdered sugar 50g
Cherry Blossom Essence Flavor (extract)
Cherry Blossom Buttercream
Granulated sugar 30g
Water 1 tablespoon
75 g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of Sakura Flavor
Preheat oven to 180c (Bake for Five minutes, then turn down to 140c and bake for 10 minutes). Prepare on baking paper a 3.5cm diameter circle. Wisk the egg whites while gradually adding the granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Whip until you have meringue (soft peak). Next you’ll create the (Macaronage) step. Add the almond powder (flour) Cherry blossom extract and you’ll mix the batter until the batter slowly falls from your spatula. Use the diameter guide you’ll pipe the macaron batter onto the baking sheets or sil pat (allow the shell to dry before baking)
For the French Buttercream: Butter should be room temperature, using the mixer on high, beat the butter and egg yolk. Place the water and sugar in a sauce pan and cook until it reaches 110c, transfer to the mixing bowl. If you prefer the egg white recipe here is a wonderful video tutorial. If you want your buttercream stiffer, you can add a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar.
Featured: Ruth Black
Model: Canon EOS 450D